Officials from Connecticut’s Department of Consumer Protection (DCP), which has been charged with organizing the state’s medical marijuana program, heard compelling public testimony Monday morning as the department prepares to establish rules regarding dispensary operations.
Gov. Dannel P. Malloy signed a medical marijuana bill into law last May, and the state began accepting applications for medical marijuana licenses in October. Unfortunately, there are no dispensaries currently operating in the state, and it is illegal for patients to grow plants for personal use.
This loophole has left patients like Tracey Gamer Fanning in an unnerving legal gray-zone. Tracey was diagnosed with brain cancer in 2006. The myriad medication she was prescribed left her bedridden and unable to function. This all changed when her doctor recommend she try marijuana. “It gave me my life back,” she told CBS.
Despite the impact it’s had on Tracey’s cancer, every time she uses the drug she is breaking the law. Dedicating her limited time to medical-marijuana advocacy, Tracey lined up to speak at Monday’s hearing.
I want the politicians to see my face, the face of a mother from West Hartford who is just grateful to be at the dinner table in the evening instead of in bed, of someone who is so thankful to be part of her children’s lives, of someone who lost an advertising career but gained a life mission.
The DCP has composed a 70-page draft of regulations that mimics the state system that controls the distribution of such pharmaceuticals as OxyContin.
MPP’s Director of State Policies, Karen O’Keefe, expressed concerns over the expense of the system of production and distribution. “The provision that requires $2 million in an escrow for producers, that’s a huge sum of money,” Karen stated. “It could edge out the little guy.” MPP has submitted suggested changes to the state regulations.
Recently, HB 6511 was introduced in the State of Connecticut. This bill seeks to reform the drug-free school zone penalties associated with drug possession near schools, daycare centers, and public housing projects.
One of the most important parts of this bill would establish a 911 Good Samaritan Policy on school campuses, that would help save lives in the event of a drug or alcohol overdose.
Call 911 Good Samaritan Policies (also known as Medical Amnesty Policies) are life-saving measures that enable people to make responsible decisions by shielding them from punishment when they call for medical help during an emergency relating to alcohol or other drugs. Since the threat of punitive policies can often cause hesitation during confusing and stressful party situations, the existence of a Call 911 Good Samaritan Policy is essential to ensuring that people are able to stay alive and receive help when they are in trouble.
Please Take Action To Support This Legislation Using Our Action Center Below.
NOTE: This action is only available to residents of Connecticut
By Mark Zaretsky
Connecticut took the controversial, historic step as of Oct. 1 to become the 17th state to legalize marijuana for medicinal use.
In what some in the government and the medical community described as a compassionate effort to make the drug available to cancer patients and others who may benefit from its effects, the state quickly put in place a mechanism for doctors to certify eligible patients and for patients to receive temporary medicinal marijuana ID cards.
But detailed regulations governing how patients will receive the drug and who will grow and dispense it still are months away.
For now, doctors can prescribe the medication and patients with valid ID cards are allowed to have it, but they are on their own as far as how and where they obtain it, officials said.
Patients suffering from one of the illnesses covered by Connecticut’s law, said to be the most restrictive among the 17 state laws so far in place, need written authorization from their doctor, said Michael Lawlor, undersecretary for criminal justice policy and planning in the state Office of Policy and Management.
Connecticut’s law allows properly registered patients “to lawfully possess up to one month’s supply of marijuana,” Lawlor said. “For the time being, one month’s supply is 2.5 ounces.”
“Regardless of how someone came into possession” of the marijuana “or if they are growing their own, if they are properly registered, et cetera, they cannot be arrested,” Lawlor said.
Once regulations are in place, “the state will license growers” and, ultimately, “you will obtain it via licensed pharmacists who will be specially authorized to sell it,” Lawlor said.
Marijuana won’t be available at the local Walgreens or CVS, however, and “whether insurance covers it is up to the insurer,” he said.
“It all starts with the doctor, so that if the doctor certifies it … the patient can then register as a qualified patient and they will receive from us a card which identifies them as a qualified patient,” said state Consumer Protection Commissioner Bill Rubenstein.
“We’re not advising people how to get marijuana, but it was the compassionate judgment of the General Assembly … that people who” suffer from debilitating illnesses that can be made less painful through the use of marijuana should be able to get it sooner rather than later, Rubenstein said.
Under Connecticut’s law, an application for a temporary registration certificate will be available online and registration will involve a three-step process. Doctors initiate the process by certifying patients, who then can go online to complete the patient portion of the application. If the physician certifies the need for a primary caregiver, the caregiver also can log in after the patient and complete the application.
One prominent advocate of medicinal marijuana, Dr. Andrew L. Salner, chief of the Department of Radiation Oncology and director of the The Helen & Harry Gray Cancer Center at Hartford Hospital, said that while he hasn’t yet certified any patients to receive medical marijuana, he wouldn’t hesitate to.
“On the one hand, I think that we really need to wait for the Deptartment of Consumer Protection to put in place the regs … and hopefully in a matter of months, that will be ready to go,” Salner said. “But on the other hand, there are people who can benefit from it.”
And while “it’s a relatively small percentage of my patients who can benefit from it,” he said, estimating that it’s probably less than 5 percent, there are some patients for whom “that’s going to help” lessen their pain, reduce nausea or stimulate their appetites.
Salner worries that certifying patients now, before a legally authorized distribution system is in place, can put those patients or their families “potentially in harm’s way,” but “at least it may help them from the danger of prosecution,” he said.
“I think there right now is a bit of hesitancy from some doctors to write the certification … because they are pushing patients onto the black market,” said Erik Williams, executive director of the Connecticut chapter of NORML, the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws.
But even with only part of Connecticut’s medicinal marijuana program in place, for would-be recipients, “as of Monday, when marijuana became legal for people who are certified … that changed the legal framework for them — dramatically.
“Yes, we certainly would want to see a means for production and distribution to be in place,” Williams said. But “I’d say it’s far and away the most well-crafted, regulated system out there” thus far.
The state is required to have the regulations in place by July 1, and “once accepted by the General Assembly, we can begin accepting applications” from would-be growers, said Rubenstein.
The law requires the state to have no fewer than three and no more than 10 certified growers authorized to participate in the program.
To qualify for medicinal marijuana, a patient needs to be diagnosed by a Connecticut-licensed physician as having one of the following debilitating medical conditions: cancer, glaucoma, HIV, AIDS, Parkinson’s disease, multiple sclerosis, damage to the nervous tissue of the spinal cord with “intractable spasticity,” epilepsy, cachexia, wasting syndrome, Crohn’s disease or post-traumatic stress disorder.
That list may be expanded at a later date. A Board of Physicians has been created to make such decisions.
Still not entirely worked out is how the price of medical marijuana will be set, Rubenstein said.
“I think the statute provides us a great regulatory latitude” and price “is something that we could consider in creating the regulations,” he said, although “my preference would be to let the market set the price.”
While he believes in the market, “our hope is that medical marijuana would be priced to cost,” Rubenstein said, adding that “black market prices are generally higher than competitive prices.”
While Connecticut’s medicinal marijuana law has been described as the most restrictive yet passed — an important detail when looking at recent federal intervention in California, where some believe medicinal marijuana has become too easy to obtain, “we’ve tried to take the best pieces of each” in crafting it, Rubenstein said.
“Looking at other states, we learned from good example and we learned from bad example,” Rubenstein said. “We’re treating this distribution system the way we would treat any controlled substance pharmaceutical manufacturing operation.”
“Our task (in Connecticut) is really different than other states,” he said. “Colorado licenses about 300 producers. Connecticut will license no more than 10.”
One thing Connecticut doesn’t allow authorized recipients to do — as have some other states, such as Maine — is grow their own, he said.
Patients also have to be a Connecticut resident at least 18 years old to obtain the drug, according to information on the website of the state Department of Consumer Protection, which regulates the drug’s use. A prison inmate cannot qualify, regardless of medical condition.
The new law prohibits use of marijuana on any bus, school bus or any moving vehicle; in the workplace; and on the grounds of any school. It also prohibits use of marijuana in any public place or in the presence of anyone under age 18.
The law also prohibits any use of palliative marijuana that endangers the health or well-being of another person, other than the patient or primary caregiver.
Information on the medicinal marijuana program is available on the Consumer Protection Department’s website.
Call Mark Zaretsky at 203-789-5722. Follow us on Twitter @nhregister or @markzar.
Norwich, Conn. — As of today, cancer patients and others suffering with serious and painful illnesses — such as HIV/AIDS, Parkinson’s, multiple sclerosis and other illnesses — can legally use medical marijuana to ease their pain provided a licensed physicians proscribes its use.
We supported the change in the law this past legislative session because we believe that if the use of marijuana for medicinal purposes can help ease the pain of those suffering from these illnesses then there is no logical reasoning to deny those individuals that relief.
We also made the argument that since the Legislature opted to de-criminalized the possession of a small amounts of marijuana for recreational purposes in the previous legislative session to the level of a parking ticket, it only made sense to extend that same consideration to those who will medically benefit from its use.
The problem, however, is the system to grow and dispense medical marijuana has not yet been put in place. In other words, it may be legal to use marijuana for medical purposes today, but growing and selling marijuana remains illegal in Connecticut.
We appreciate the careful deliberations the state Department of Consumer Protection is taking to ensure that the proper and necessary safeguards are in place before issuing any licenses to pharmacies to dispense marijuana. The only steps taken thus far by the agency is setting up the system by which doctors can register patients for its use. That, in of itself, is a positive step.
Under the law, only licenses pharmacists will be permitted to dispense the drug. The licensing application process to grow and dispense the marijuana has not yet started.
But even when those systems are put in place, the growing, selling and possession of marijuana is still illegal under federal law.
Obviously, there is no local legislative action state officials can take to address federal law, but it is incumbent upon state officials to work closely with our congressional delegation in an effort to protect citizens in Connecticut abiding by state law from that threat.
Source: Norwich Bulletin (CT)
Published: September 30, 2012
Copyright: 2012 GateHouse Media, Inc.
This morning Connecticut officially became the 17th state since 1996 to allow for the physician-authorized use of cannabis as a therapeutic option.
House Bill 5389 — the Palliative Use of Marijuana Act — which wassigned into law on by Democrat Gov. Dan Malloy on June 1, took effect today. Online registration for qualifying patients and their physicians is now available from the Connecticut Department of Consumer Protection here.
Applicable qualifying medical conditions under the law include: cancer, glaucoma, positive status for human immunodeficiency virus or acquired immune deficiency syndrome, Parkinson’s disease, multiple sclerosis, damage to the nervous tissue of the spinal cord with objective neurological indication of intractable spasticity, epilepsy, cachexia, wasting syndrome, Crohn’s disease, and Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder.
The Consumer Protection Agency has until July 1 to submit regulations to the General Assembly regarding the eventual state-licensed distribution of cannabis. In the interim, qualified patients will be allowed to lawfully to possess up to 2.5 ounces of cannabis. However, “until state-approved sources of medical marijuana are established, transactions to obtain the drug will still be illegal,”according to today’s Norwich Bulletin. (Home cultivation is not explicitly addressed under the statute.)
Additional information for Connecticut patients and physicians regarding Public Act 12-55, An Act Concerning the Palliative Use of Marijuana is available online from the state Department of Consumer Protection here.
By Alison Shea, The Bulletin
Source: Norwich Bulletin
Connecticut — Despite a change in the law coming next week to allow the medicinal use of marijuana by people who suffer from specific debilitating conditions, patients and advocates say it could be months before they have safe, legal access to the drug.
The state Legislature voted last spring to create a registration and oversight system within the Department of Consumer Protection for medical marijuana use. The bill takes effect Oct. 1, a week from today. That day, the department wrote on its website, physicians will be able to begin certifying their patients, though a secure state registration system, as eligible to receive medicinal-grade marijuana grown by state-licensed pharmacists.
The department’s website also shows the state hasn’t yet made available application forms for individual pharmacists to build and maintain secure indoor growing facilities for medical marijuana.
Changing the law “is a good first step for patients already using it for those debilitating conditions, but it’s just the first step in the process,” said Erik Williams, the executive director of Connecticut’s chapter of NORML, the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws. Williams said it would be a few months before patients can get marijuana through the state dispensary system, which limits the number of dispensaries statewide to 10.
Kathy O’Callaghan, 53, of Scotland, has used marijuana to treat her multiple sclerosis since about 1994. The drug helps with her balance issues and severe pain, she said.
“I’ve waited so long already. It will happen when it happens,” O’Callaghan said. “I just want a safe place to buy it, and to know that it is safe to ingest in one way or another.”
Once she’s working with pharmacists instead of street dealers, O’Callaghan said she hopes edible forms will be available so she doesn’t have to smoke it.
Her worries, she said, include that the medical-grade drug might be less effective than what’s peddled on the streets, and that the varieties grown by the legally mandated three to 10 growers might not include the one she uses to focus the euphoric effects on her body, and not her mind.
“I don’t like to use the term ‘high,’ because that’s not what I’m looking for,” she said. “I just want my body to feel better.”
Connecticut’s new marijuana law allows the medicinal use of marijuana for Connecticut residents 18 or older suffering from cancer, glaucoma, HIV/AIDS, Parkinson’s, multiple sclerosis, spinal cord injuries, epilepsy, Crohn’s Disease, post-traumatic stress or cachexia (wasting syndrome). It limits the drug’s use in public places and in moving vehicles, and around children and teens.
Seventeen other states, including Rhode Island, Vermont and New Jersey, also permit the medicinal use of marijuana. Connecticut’s laws, in naming specific ailments and limiting the place of use and number of dispensing pharmacists, are stricter than most, Williams said.
Source: Norwich Bulletin (CT)
Author: Alison Shea, The Bulletin
Published: September 23, 2012
Copyright: 2012 GateHouse Media, Inc.
Connecticut’s medical marijuana law takes effect in October and potential dispensaries are gearing up.
With Connecticut’s new law allowing medical marijuana soon to be on the books, businesses are preparing to set up dispensaries in the state.
The law will bring a whole new industry to the state, and the Associated Press talked to one company owner who expects it to be a robust business.
‘‘We expect competition to be fierce,’’ Bruce Bedrick, head of Medbox Inc., reportedly said. ‘‘As much as I want to be in the business, a lot of other people will be in the business.’’
Under the law, patients must receive a doctor’s note to be able to use the drug and register with the Department of Consumer Protection. The patient and his or her primary caregiver can hold up to a one-month supply of marijuana, according a press release issued by Gov. Dannel P. Malloy after he signed the law.
Malloy said that the law offers these “safeguards.”
- Unlike California and several other states, patients must have both a physician’s recommendation and a registration form from the Department of Consumer Protection, which is shared with law enforcement.
- Medical marijuana cannot be used in any public place, near children under the age of 18, in buses or other motor vehicles, on school grounds, or in college dormitories.
- A panel of doctors selected by the Commissioner of the Department of Consumer Protection will determine how much marijuana may be possessed by patients, depending on the type of illness involved.
- Medical marijuana can only be sold legally by registered pharmacists who have been approved by the Commissioner of the Department of Consumer Protection, and those pharmacists can only sell marijuana that is produced by special licensed growers. Approved marijuana will be packaged in the same way as prescription drugs according to dosage.
- Doctors recommending marijuana will be carefully monitored through the existing Prescription Monitoring Program in order to identify those who demonstrate a pattern of excessive recommendation of medical marijuana.
Paul Petrone contributed to this report.
Less than one week after Connecticut became the 17th state to legalize the therapeutic use of cannabis, lawmakers in the New Hampshire House and Senate late today affirmed their support for legislation to allow for the personal possession, cultivation, and use of the plant for medicinal purposes.
This afternoon, House lawmakers on a voice vote reaffirmed their prior support for Senate Bill 409, which they had previously approved last month by a veto-proof super-majority. Members of the Senate then approved the measure by a vote of 13-9 — a gain of two ‘yes’ votes since the Senate had previously acted on the bill in March. (A cosponsor of the bill, Senator John Gallus, R-Berlin, was not present for today’s vote.)
The bill now goes to Gov. John Lynch, a Democrat, who has previously voiced his opposition to the measure. In 2009, Gov. Lynch vetoed a separate medical marijuana measure. An effort to override Lynch’s veto that year was successful in the House but fell just shy in the Senate of the necessary two-thirds majority support.
If Gov. Lynch vetoes this year’s legislation, proponents will need at least two additional ‘yes’ votes in the Senate to pass SB 409 into law.
In a press release issued by the Marijuana Policy Project, Senator Jim Forsythe (R-Strafford), the bill’s prime sponsor, vowed to continue working to gain the two additional Senate votes necessary if a veto override is needed. “Most senators now agree we have a moral obligation to protect seriously ill patients from being arrested in our state,” he stated.
If you reside in New Hampshire, you can contact Gov. Lynch on behalf of the measure here.
NORML will continue to update you on the progress of SB 409 via our ‘Take Action Center’ here.
By Mary Ellen Clark
The state’s Governor Dannel Malloy signed into law legislation allowing licensed physicians to certify an adult patient’s use of marijuana for medical purposes, according to a statement from the governor’s office.
The new law puts in place restrictions to prevent the kind of abuse that has plagued some of the 16 other states and the District of Columbia where pot is legal for medical use.
“For years, we’ve heard from so many patients with chronic diseases who undergo treatments like chemotherapy or radiation and are denied the palliative benefits that medical marijuana would provide,” Governor Malloy said.
“With careful regulation and safeguards, this law will allow a doctor and a patient to decide what is in that patient’s best interest,” he said.
Under the bill, patients and their caregivers must register with the Department of Consumer Protection. In addition, a doctor must certify there is a medical need for marijuana to be dispensed, including such debilitating conditions as cancer, glaucoma, HIV, AIDS, Parkinson’s disease, multiple sclerosis or epilepsy.
Finally, only a pharmacist with a special license can dispense medical marijuana, according to the new law.
Editing by Barbara Goldberg and Andrew Hay
Legislation that seeks to allow for the limited legalization of medical marijuana by qualified patients is now awaiting action in the Connecticut State Senate.
This votes follow on the heels of the release of a statewide Quinnipiac University Poll of over 1,600 residents which reported that 68 percent of voters endorse the measure. According to the poll, “there is no gender, partisan, income, age or education group opposed” to legalizing marijuana as a physician-recommended therapy.
NORML and our statewide affiliate Connecticut NORML will continue to update you regarding forthcoming hearings and votes on the measure. You can view media reports of Connecticut NORML’s press conference at the Capitol here.
To receive future e-mail updates on the progress of this legislation and what you can do to assure its passage, please contact Erik Williams, Connecticut NORML Executive Director, here.
Thank you for your support of NORML and our efforts to enact medical marijuana reform in Connecticut. Enter your zip code below to contact your State Senator below to urge them to support this important legislation.